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Biden moves to revitalise U.S. sentencing panel, nominates first Black chair -Breaking


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden listens while he talks to Mario Draghi (Italy’s Prime Minister) in Washington, U.S.A. May 10, 2022. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Rami Ayyub and Nate Raymond

(Reuters] – On Wednesday, President Joe Biden nominated seven members to the ailing U.S. Sentencing Commission. This gives hope to advocates for criminal justice reform that new guidelines could be issued soon in order to reduce excessive sentences.

In January 2019, the commission was unable to meet its quorum. This happened one month after Donald Trump, a Republican president, signed the First Step Act into law. It is bipartisan legislation that aims at lessening harsh sentences for nonviolent offenders as well as reducing recidivism.

Charles Breyer, the United States District Judge, is its only member remaining and the acting chair. The panel could not issue any new guidelines that courts can apply, because of this lack of quorum.

Bipartisan replacements include U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves (a Mississippi federal judge) who will become the first Black member of the commission. Claire McCusker Murray (a Justice Department official under the Trump administration) would be vice-chair.

John Gleeson (another nominee) is an ex-federal judge and critic of mandatory minimum sentences in drug cases. U.S. U.S. Circuit Judge Luis Restrepo, and Laura Mate (director of the Sentencing Resource Counsel), both have extensive experience as public defense attorneys.

Biden nominated Candice Woong (a Washington federal prosecutor) and Claria Horn Boom, U.S. District Judge in Kentucky.